This is a Peak District elementary classic. It is open to endless minor variation. On the way out, you can veer of west to visit Eldon Hill and Eldon Hole. On this beautiful day with the hills white with recent snow, I kept it simple heading straight up the path past Conies Farm. The track gives up at the farm after which you’re joining the dots with field stiles above Conies Dale. Then it opens out heading over access land past the left hand edge of Jewelknoll Plantation. The path was hard to see in the snow here and I was grateful to others who had blazed me a trail. So on over the hill to pass close by Oxlow House, where I turned rightv onto the road. Again you have choices here. Some will want to make the walk longer by including an ascent of Mam Tor. Or you can follow the road down Winnats Pass – a spectacular walk with a footpath keeping you away from the road and the cars. I turned left at Winnats Head Farm and headed across the moor to Blue John Cavern. From here a nice path leads down the hill past Treak Cliff Cavern to Speedwell Cavern. There is some steep ground here and the path was a little icy but it was less treacherous than it looked. From Speedwell Cavern a field path to the south gets you to Castleton avoiding the busy road.
I was hungry now and Castleton was full of signposts alerting me to the presence of pizza, Whitby scampi and other tempting things. But daylight was running low and there wasn’t time to be stopping to eat. Back I went following the Limestone Way up the beautiful Cavedale below Peverill Castle. In the wintery weather the moors beyond this felt agreeably wild. About halfway back to Old Dam you cross a track where there is again a choice to make. (1) You can stick with the Pennine Way where a little detour will grab you the trig point at the edge of Bradwell Moor; (2) you can start that way then turn right down Oxlow rake; or (3) take a dog leg variation further east past old mine workings. (Grant’s book is confusing here: the topo mark clearly shows (2) but the text describes (3) though no very accurately – “wall to the left” should read “fence to the left” but a lot may have changed since 1993.) In any event I opted for (2) and descended easily back to Old Dam.
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